Days after an IAS official shot off a stinging letter to the Gujarat Government about the “rotten primary education” imparted to Adivasi school children, it has now come to light that 18 other officers have reported the pathetic condition of primary schools in the State’s backward areas.
It was during a random inspection of half a dozen schools in the predominantly tribal district of Chhota udepur in central Gujarat that Geology and Mines Commissioner Dhawal Patel, also former Ahmedabad district collector, found students of standard 8 could neither add single digit numbers nor read Gujarati except identifying alphabets.
He also found, to his utter shock, that the students could not find where Gujarat or the Himalayas were on the country’s map, nor could they say the opposite of day and night. In his letter to the State Education Secretary Vinod Rao with copies right up to the principals of the six schools Patel visited, he cited instances of mass copying in the exams where exactly the same answers were written in English to questions in Gujarati but the students didn’t know what it meant.
Dhawal Patel asserted in his June 16 letter in Gujarati, which got leaked three days ago, that, “We are doing grave injustice to the tribal children as if we wish them to remain backward and do manual labour through their lives, by giving them such a rotten education.”
The IAS official checked the schools during the Gujarat Government’s much-touted “Shala Praveshotsav” (celebrating school admissions) to ensure full enrolment of eligible children in government schools. Similarly, government officials from various departments were allocated different regions to ensure that every child is enrolled.
Reliable sources in the State Education Department disclosed to Free Press Journal that Dhawal Patel’s letter had reached Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel much before it was leaked. The sources confirmed that the letter was not leaked by Dhawal Patel but from the lower rung of the State machinery since he had marked copies of it right up to the village level.
The chief minister had even convened a review meeting when reports from 18 other officials were also discussed and directives issued to correct the situation, the sources said.
Dhawal Patel’s utterances in the letter have invited wrath from the Opposition Congress in Gujarat, whose newly-appointed state president Shaktisinh Gohil asserted that a “Gujarati IAS official Dhawal Patel has exposed the pathetic state of education in the State and has demonstrated that the government is just not concerned.”
Among other things, the IAS officer also wrote that, “This exposes a moral decay where we cheat students and their parents like this while they blindly trust us. There is the required infrastructure and teachers, but still the level is low. I am befuddled by this.” He asserted that it reflected on the teachers that even after eight years of primary education, the students can’t even add and subtract small numbers.”